Chapter II.
Sectoral Analysis of the International Situation and Japan's Foreign Policy

Section 3.
Efforts toward the realization of a better global society

D. Protection of human rights and promotion of democratization

a) Efforts by the international community and Japan

The need for protection of human rights and the promotion of democratization are widely recognized by the international community as a basis for world peace and prosperity. There were a lot of activities in this area again in 1998, which marked the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the fifth anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action (VDPA). Review of the implementation of the VDPA was discussed in July at the Coordination Segment of the Economic and Social Council and the UN General Assembly, in which agreed conclusions and resolutions were adopted respectively. A plenary session of the General Assembly was also held on Human Rights Day on 10 December to mark the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, with human rights awards given out and various other events taking place. The Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms was also adopted in the General Assembly.

Moreover, recognizing that active commitment in the field of human rights is as important as ever, Japan held the Third Symposium on Human Rights in the Asia-Pacific Region in Tokyo in January, inviting United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, which reaffirmed the steady significance of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. On 10 December, a ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights was also held with the attendance of Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan.

Japan has actively supported UN activities in the field of human rights undertaken by, for example, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). On the financial side, Japan also has contributed around US$800,000 in 1998 to the various funds administered by the OHCHR, including the Voluntary Fund for Advisory Services and Technical Assistance in the Field of Human Rights, established to support countries' efforts to improve their respective human rights situations. As a member of the UN Commission on Human Rights since 1982, Japan has participated actively in deliberations and consideration of resolutions. State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Koumura attended the 54th session of the commission held over March and April, giving a speech in regard to Japan's basic position on human rights diplomacy. Japan also utilizes various opportunities to engage in consultations with other countries on human rights issues, including the second Japan-China human rights dialogue held in July. Further, Japan has promoted cooperation under the Partnership for Democratic Development (PDD), which includes support for establishing legal, judicial and electoral systems and the training of judicial and police officials, as cooperation for democratization and the protection and promotion of human rights in developing countries.

b) Women and children

In terms of efforts for gender equality and the advancement of the status of women, Japan participated actively in deliberations and the adoption of resolutions in the follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women at the 42nd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, held in March. Japan is also active for supporting the women of the world through its contribution of roughly US$5.8 million in 1998 to such funds as the Women in Development (WID) fund for the support of capacity-building for women in developing countries, the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the UNIFEM Trust Fund in Eliminating Violence Against Women, the latter established as a Japanese initiative, as well as the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women.

Japan has been making its contribution toward the protection of children's rights, promotion of child health care and education, and emergency aid, etc., through its participation at international fora such as the UN Commission on Human Rights and cooperation with UNICEF, to which it made a contribution amounting to US$26.53 million in 1998. In addition, to protect those children who have become the victims of the armed conflicts occurring around the world, and to secure their rights and welfare, Japan held an international symposium entitled Children and Armed Conflict in Tokyo in November in collaboration with the Office of the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, the United Nations University and the Japan Committee for UNICEF, inviting Special Representative Otunnu, with the aim of raising domestic and foreign awareness of this issue.

c) Social development

As a member of the United Nations Commission for Social Development, Japan worked with other members at the 36th session in February 1998 regarding issues such as support for socially vulnerable people. On the domestic front, Japan also drew up the "National Strategy of Japan for Social Development to the Year 2000 and Beyond" based on the Declaration and Program of Action issued by the World Summit for Social Development. Moreover, Japan attaches importance to social development assistance programs in ODA in such fields as medical care, public health and education. The share of this area in bilateral ODA is increasing, with the level of 12.3% in 1991 growing to 22.8% in 1997.

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